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Cavaliers-Hawks Preview

AP - Sports

After struggling to get things going their last time out, the Atlanta Hawks are surely looking forward to another matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Hawks try for a three-game season sweep and a seventh consecutive victory over the visiting Cavaliers as the teams meet Wednesday night for the second time in four days.

Joe Johnson scored 13 of his 28 points in the first quarter, when Atlanta (26-20) opened a 31-19 lead and cruised to a 103-87 victory at Cleveland (17-26) on Sunday.

"First of all, that's a pretty good basketball team. Second of all, I thought in the first quarter, they came out, and as we would say, 'punched us in the mouth' and I don't think we ever really responded after that," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said.

Double-digit victories over Cleveland have been common of late for Atlanta, which has shot a combined 50.8 percent from the field in taking six straight in this series by an average of 16.8 points.

The Hawks, in contrast, failed to generate much offense during Monday's 79-76 loss to Boston. Atlanta was limited to just 38.7 percent shooting as its three-game home winning streak ended.

"When looking at the Cleveland game from (Sunday) versus (Monday's) game, I thought it was totally different from a physical standpoint. I'm not saying that Cleveland is not a physical ball club, but Monday's game was much more physical than the Cleveland game was," coach Larry Drew said.

"If there's anything that we can take from it, we have to see how we have to bring it every night. We can't come out and play lethargic, we can't come and play soft, we can't come out and not be physical ... we're going to have to learn how to play like that on a consistent basis, regardless of who we play against."

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, bounced back from Sunday's loss and snapped a three-game skid with Monday's 105-100 win at New Jersey. Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft, continued his impressive play with 26 points and seven assists, but fellow rookie Tristan Thompson also made a significant contribution.

Making his second consecutive start at center, Thompson, who was selected three spots after Irving, posted a season-high 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting to go along 12 rebounds.

"He played really well tonight. Hopefully, he'll have a lot more nights like this and contribute as well as he did tonight," Irving said. "He played really big for us, especially down the stretch. Him playing well, as long as me and Antawn (Jamison), if we get all of us on, especially everyone in the starting five, we're dangerous."

Averaging 21.6 points over his last five games, Irving posted his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 assists versus the Hawks on Sunday. Thompson, though, had just seven points and six rebounds in that matchup.

After dropping 11 of its first 16 on the road, Cleveland has won three of four there while averaging 101.5 points - well above their overall season mark of 94.9.

Holding opponents to just 91.6 points per contest at Philips Arena, Atlanta has lost eight in a row on its own court when allowing at least 100 points.

The Hawks haven't suffered back-to-back home defeats since a three-game slide Feb. 2-6.

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